My major accomplishment last month was creating a spreadsheet and system for feeding animals a consistent amount of grain. For the past two years I've kind of been "winging it" with feeding animals. It was just two goats for the first 18 months, so as long as I was consistent with the amount it didn't matter financially whether I gave more or less feed. But now that I have chickens and 10 goats, I need to focus on keeping feed bills low. This means feeding exactly what they need; no more, no less.
In order to get a more exact amount, I took a kitchen scale, empty cottage cheese container and Sharpie marker down to the barn. I used the scale to measure out one pound of feed in the container, and then I marked the 1 lb., 1/2 lb. and 1/4 lb. lines with a permanent marker. My measurements for 1 lb. of corn, goat feed and layer mash came out almost exactly the same, so I use the same "measuring cup" for all three feed types.
After some research, I decided to feed Adi 1-2 lbs. of feed per day. I let her eat as much as she wants on the milking stand because she is still producing milk. I've chosen to give the other goats a collective 1.5 lbs., once a day. Technically they should not need any feed because they are on grass, but I feel better giving them a little bit of grain and some of last year's hay just in case. The buck is not receiving any feed right now because he has his own pasture.
At the beginning of the month, I was giving Alex (a fiber goat that kidded in April) 1-2 lbs. of feed every day as well. However, I was only getting 1/2 cup of milk per day from her. After making my feed cost worksheet on Excel, I realized that I was putting $0.41 of feed into her every day for that 1/2 cup of milk. Therefore, a gallon of Alex-milk was costing me around $13.00. NOT a good deal!!! So I stopped milking Alex, and she now shares the 1.5 lbs. of feed with the other goats. It is less work and less cost that way.
Having so many goats has really taken a toll on the pasture and fencing system. We still haven't been able to sell the kids, so they have been busy finding places to get out and weaseling into Mom's pen to drink her milk before I can get any. We have three paddocks fenced off, and I don't think it is enough. One paddock goes to the buck, one goes to Adi (the milking goat), and all eight of the other goats are in the last pen. Goats are escape artists, and the way they go about it is 1) finding a weak spot in the fence (this is usually a place where the bottom of the fence is curling up from them pushing on it) and 2) working on that weak area until the hole is large enough to escape. Just today, in fact, the Pygoras broke through another area and it took three people to get them back in. Thankfully they didn't get in the garden.
Right now, the fiber goats are collectively costing me about $12.82 per month. During the winter months, costs will increase to about $53.00. Since getting the fiber in April I have only sold one ounce, so it's not something that can sell itself. The question is if the goats can actually produce enough fiber to sell 2-6 oz. per month ($450 per year for their keep).
That being said, we are having to make some hard decisions about which goats are staying and which ones need to find another farm. I've just reached a limit of what I can take care of by myself, as well as what can be supported by our pasture and fencing system.
The good news is that I sold a bulk amount of soap to a retailer this month, so milk product sales were up.
I finally got around to butchering roosters last month. We did five, and saved some of the feathers to use for crafts. I canned the legs and wings, and froze the breasts/carcasses to use in crock pot meals.
We did have an additional rooster fatality last month from unknown causes. At least it wasn't a laying hen!
According to Google, laying hens eat 1/4 lb. of feed per day while they are producing. We have a mixed herd of about 35 laying and non-laying birds. Therefore, I should be feeding 8 lbs. 12 oz. of feed daily. However, the hens are free range and have plenty of bugs and spilled goat feed to eat, so I've cut the amount back to 5 lbs. per day (half shelled corn, half layer mash) Chickens, then, are costing $0.80 per day, or $24.80 per month. Previously I was feeding "scoops" instead of pounds, and going through about $30.00 of feed every month. So doing some research and a little math is already saving at least $5.00 per month.
Again though, during the winter I won't be able to sell as many eggs and the feed requirements will go back to 8.75 lbs. per day ($1.40 per day, or $43.35 per month).
Milk products: $87.80
Garden produce: $9.50
Other farmers market stuff: $47.42
Total income: $196.72
Total expenses: $42.00
Total Net Profit for June: $154.72
Year-to-Date Net Profit: $67.49!!!
Yay!!! We're finally ahead for the year. During July and August I won't be at the farmers market often. I'm going to put my energy instead toward finding ways to cut winter costs and/or improve my Etsy store.
Til next time,